Contributed by Dori Cranmore
Scientific name: Taraxacum officinale. The word dandelion comes from “dent de lion” which is French meaning lion’s tooth, referring to the jagged leaves that resemble lions’ teeth. The leaves are considered to be one of the most nutritious greens available. The greens are high in potassium, which creates a natural diuretic action that helps relieve water retention and bloating associated with PMS.
Every part of the dandelion can be used: the root, leaves and flower. The above ground parts, i.e. the leaves, flower and stem are used as a laxative, for healthy circulation, blood vessel cleanser and strengthener, rheumatism and arthritis. The root is the most sought after part of the plant however. The bitterness of the root is used to stimulate digestion and secretion of digestive juices especially bile. Bile is made in the liver and ensures emulsification of fats for absorption and the elimination of fat-soluble toxins from the body. Bile also helps maintain the good flora in your intestines.
Dandelion has been used for centuries in Chinese and European cultures for combating liver disease. Up until the 1800s, people would pull the grass out of their yards and let the wild beneficial “weeds” take over, like dandelion, chickweed and chamomile. Dandelions have one of the longest flowering seasons of any plant. The seeds of the dandelion “puffball” can be carried up to five miles from their origin.
The dandelion is high in many minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Also high in electrolytes and contains more beta-carotene than carrots. Dandelion is shown to have more vitamin B, C and D than most other vegetables.
If you have gallbladder obstruction or gallstones, contact your physician before use.
The dandelion is the only flower that symbolizes the three celestial bodies of the sun, moon, and the stars. The yellow flower resembles the sun, the puffball resembles the moon and the seeds resemble the stars.
So before getting rid of such a useful plant, try making a salad or a stir fry with the greens. Or roast the root as a coffee substitute. ‘Dandy Blend’ actually makes a coffee substitute that tastes just like coffee without the caffeine and acid.
This information is for educational purposes and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or replace the advice of your health care provider. Dori Cranmore is a registered nurse and owner of All About Herbs, Inc. at 4621 E. Palmer Wasilla Hwy. 907-376-8327.